Got Your Back
Bobby sat on the park bench, observing the interactions of the children. He caught the flustered glances of the nannies and mothers, and was glad they were being diligent. He knew he looked suspicious; a grown man with no kids, watching the children's playground. He couldn't help it today. After that last case, he needed to get out, see some kids…just being kids.
One of the kids fell off the monkey bars and cried out in pain. The nanny was there right away, soothing him, but he cried even more loudly. Bobby saw the boy's arm was broken, and he stepped in. The nannies closed around him like a gang defending their turf.
Bobby smiled and showed them his badge. "It's okay," he said. "I was just going to call in for help. It might get here faster if I do it."
They all looked relieved and he made the call. Then he stayed close until the bus showed up. Several of the nannies gave him their thanks, and one or two were a little flirty about it. Bobby shyly accepted their comments and went back to his bench. The accident had disrupted the innocence of the childrens' play, and they were leaving, one by one. He looked at his watch. It was almost time for lunch.
Bobby knew not to expect a call from Alex today. The case had hit her hard, as well, and she would be spending the day with her nephew. She'd invited him along, but he always felt like that was… too much, too close, too invasive. He couldn't just "borrow" a family for a day.
Detective Goren headed out of the park and back to his own neighborhood. He was surprised when he ducked into the little diner to find Mike Logan there. Logan was off duty today, too: for a while, actually. He had earned himself another administrative leave, thanks to being an outspoken advocate for their last victim: an 8 year old boy who'd been killed by his 12 year old sister.
Right now, Goren thought of Mike Logan with the highest regard. He cheerfully walked up and joined him at the table. "Logan!" he greeted him.
"About time you showed up," Logan said. "I've been waiting around all morning."
Goren slid into the booth across from him. "You could have called," he said. Mike shrugged and Bobby waited for him to fill him in. "It's all right," Logan said. "I like their coffee."
A waitress came around and Bobby ordered a grilled turkey sandwich with a diet coke. He turned his attention back to Logan.
"They're playing pretty tough this time," he said quietly. "The commissioner's pretty hot about it."
"You did right, Logan. I would have done the same."
"Thing is, I don't even know if I care anymore. Maybe it's time I should quit."
Bobby knew the feeling. The job was outrageously tough, what with the hours and the danger and just the horrible things they had to see. Not to mention the horrible people they had to meet. And then there was the paperwork.
He wasn't sure what Logan wanted from him. Was he looking for commiseration, or someone to light the fire in him again? "What would you do?" he asked, buying himself some more time to figure it out.
"I've been thinking about P.I. work. The whole 'being your own boss' thing is looking better and better."
Goren nodded, and sat back out of the way when they brought his sandwich. "Look, Logan… I know where you're coming from… and all I can say is… when you quit, there's one less voice out there for the victims."
Mike sat up taller. It was the nicest thing Goren had ever said to him, and he hadn't expected it. "Some kid will step up, take my place," he said, shrugging off the compliment.
"I don't wanna work with a squad full of kids," Goren said. "There's something to be said for a seasoned detective." Bobby took a bite of his sandwich.
"They're coming in all the time, anyway," Mike said. "They all look at us like we're old school, like the only tools we're comfortable with are fists and phone books."
Goren took another bite and then tilted his head, thinking. "When do you go before the review board?"
Goren rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. Then he looked at Logan with a spark in his eye.
Alex Eames was finally feeling human again. It took a while this time, but the love and laughter of family had finally replaced the creepy horror that had eaten her up during this case. Nate was playing in the sandbox, pouring sand over a buried green dump truck.
"Grow, little truck, grow." He looked at his mother. "Mommy, I growed the truck."
Liz giggled. "You growed the truck? You mean like a flower?"
Nate nodded and poured more sand on top. Alex chuckled, and went into the house to help herself to another hard cider. Her cell phone rang, and she looked at the name in the display window.
"Hi Bobby," she said. She listened, and then agreed. "Yeah, give me another hour or so. Where?" She smiled watching her nephew. "Okay, see you later." She hung up the phone.
Bobby's apartment was as messy as it ever gets. There were 5 dishes waiting in the sink to be washed. Logan sat at the table, talking baseball with Goren. When the bell rang, Goren checked through the peephole, then let Eames in.
She was surprised to see Logan there, but entered and offered him a beer out of the 6-pack she carried. Bobby took one as well. They all sat at the table together and Alex cracked her own beer open.
"Logan's got to go before the review board on Thursday," Goren explained. "I have a plan."
Eames knocked on Captain Ross's door. He was surprised to see her, but let her in. She shut the door behind her.
"I thought I gave you some time off. Maybe you don't need it?" It was half-hopeful, half-threatening.
"I need to talk to you, Captain. It's about Logan."
He offered her a chair and she sat down across the desk from him. "This whole thing is shaping up to be a witch hunt. He may quit this time. He's seriously thinking about it."
Ross was surprised to have Eames here telling him this, but he wasn't surprised that Logan might quit. Mike was getting the short end of the stick. "Logan's the one who gets himself into these messes. I don't know what you expect me to do about it."
She frowned and nodded. "I know Logan runs his mouth a little too much. But this time…"
"Eames, look. Even if I do happen to agree with you this time, my hands are tied. Because of Logan's history…"
"He needs somebody to back him up."
Ross closed his mouth and frowned at her.
"Just bring in an expert to talk to the Board. Bring in Goren."
Ross tilted his head and raised an eyebrow. "Goren?"
"I know you have your issues with Bobby, but he is our best profiler. He could talk to the board about the case, give them the background they need to see that Logan was right."
"They're already bringing in Dr. Huang."
It was Eames' turn to be surprised.
"Since it involved children, and he works with SVU so much…"
Eames sat quietly and waited.
"All right, Eames. I'll set it up. You tell Goren to be ready to shine."